A message of hope for the upcoming year turned tragic when a former Marine was killed by an alleged drunk driver on New Year’s Eve. The victim’s uplifting Facebook post went viral after the news of his death spread.
“Anything can happen in 1 day,” 31-year-old Matthew DeRemer shared Thursday morning on Facebook. “And I really don't know where I'll end up tonight, but I do know where I windup is where I'm meant to be."
He was killed while riding his motorcycle in his home of Seminole, Florida, just before 8 p.m. on Dec. 31.
DeRemer’s parents described him as an “infectious” and “creative” soul who was a “phenomenal” listener and writer.
"He liked to write stories," his mother, Julie DeRemer, told ABC News, adding that he would spread words of encouragement online, sometimes to people who seemed downtrodden. DeRemer would text his parents every day just to say "Good morning," she said.
“He always looked to the future instead of the past,” Michael DeRemer, Matthew's father, told ABC News today.
After DeRemer was honorably discharged from the Marines, he lived in San Diego and San Francisco. He moved to Florida a couple of years ago to attend school for surgical technology, his father said.
DeRemer had just gotten a job as a surgical technologist at the Belleair Surgery Center in Clearwater, Florida, last week. He had worked at the West Bay Surgical Center in Largo for about six months.
“He liked to make a difference in somebody’s life,” Julie DeRemer told ABC News. “He was phenomenal in his skill set.”
Michael and Julie DeRemer said their son’s positive message was a reflection of how he lived his life. He was in a Christian motorcycle group and an active member of his church. He loved to write and tell stories since he was a child, they said.
“Everybody was truly touched by him,” Michael DeRemer said. “He was profound with his thoughts and would right down things that were very, very deep and meaningful.”
Seminole resident Steven Clarke, 59, was charged with DUI manslaughter and was ticketed for failing to yield right of way after he made a left turn and hit DeRemer, who was driving his motorcycle in oncoming traffic, Sgt. Steve Gaskins told ABC News. DeRemer died at the scene.
Clarke was released from Pinellas County Jail on $20,000 bond, according to the jail’s website. It is unclear when he was released.
Julia DeRemer said that although she misses her son terribly, she has no ill feelings toward the driver who killed her son.
“You’ve got to live every day to the fullest, just as his post said,” she said.
DeRemer’s funeral will take place on Jan. 16 at a church in St. Petersburg. A roadside memorial has been set up for the former Marine at the intersection of CR-296 and 97th Street in Seminole.